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Creating a global community of young readers

Creating a global community of young readers

A unique children’s literature competition invented by New Zealander Wayne Mills has just finished its first run in the United Kingdom, won by Dunblane High School in Scotland.

The inaugural UK “Kids’ Lit Quiz” sponsored by the Times Educational Supplement finished on 18th of December, wrapping up a ten-region tour involving around 800 British schoolchildren. The winning team of year eight children is invited to New Zealand next July to compete in the New Zealand finals of the Kids’ Lit Quiz.

Children’s literature specialist Wayne Mills, who lectures in language at Auckland College of Education and is President of the Literature Foundation of NZ, was invited to run the quiz in the UK after he demonstrated it to a school in Newcastle in April.

The UK is the first stop-off in his quest to export the Kids’ Lit Quiz to all English-speaking countries. He’ll return next year, he says, and has had clear interest from South African educators to introduce the quiz there.

“I want kids who like reading to enjoy being part of a global community of readers,” he says.

“The quiz had instant success in the UK, partly because, I believe, nothing else like it had been seen before. It proves that the concept of reading as sport has great potential outside New Zealand. The interest shown by boys has been marked, even greater than in New Zealand.

“Children who read for pleasure are the unsung heroes of schools, compared to their classmates who excel in sport or do well in science fairs. The quiz can make reading both a figurative and literal passport to new worlds; it rewards the passion of these youngsters.”

The Kids’ Lit Quiz deliberately targets the 10-13 year old age group, who, says Mr Mills are on the literary cusp between childhood and adulthood, and as such reads widely. Teams of four compete for prizes to answer 100 attention-grabbing questions posed by Mr Mills from diverse categories including mythology, illustrators, the classics, quests, comics and more.

The UK quiz attracted over 120 schools fielding 170 teams, from Cardiff in the west to Newcastle in the east, and from London in the south to Glasgow in the north. During his tour Mr Mills met such well-known authors as Celia Rees, Gillian Cross and Theresa Breslin.

The Kids’ Lit Quiz is in its thirteenth year in New Zealand, sponsored by Paper Plus. This year a record 348 teams entered from all over New Zealand.

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